When we arrived at Horakuan, we found a beautiful temple in a secluded and beautiful forest on the hills of Suzaka and just minutes away from other residences. Horakuan combines for me the best of different worlds; nature, beauty, inspiration (temple), isolation and silence, access to culture (museums), relaxation (hot springs), small town and hence safety.
This was a very good place for me to experience “traditional” Japanese life, either directly in many local settings or through stories from Dorothee and Taka. As Dorothee knows both the Zen world in the West/North and in Japan, she really gave me an insight in their differences and similarities and I have now a better understanding of what the future of Zen might look like.
It was exiting to prepare for, and to participate in, the 10th anniversary of Horakuan and I enjoyed meeting all the visitors (priests and lay people). I felt very welcome to join in all the running Horakuan activities (e.g. anniversary, zazen group, supper in Soba restaurant etc.) which made my stay very special. The way we worked with Dorothee allowed for plenty of time off, either just to hang out at Horakuan, to explore Suzaka or to visit places further away always using the little Suzuki pick-up truck so generously provided for the full stay of our visit!!! We became very regular visitors of Yukku-land, a luxuries hot spring in Suzaka with sauna, a very easy to use restaurant, an eating/relaxation space, and much more. Don’t miss this place!!!
I enjoyed the work and I feel happy to have been able to contribute to some bigger projects that will make Horakuan a nicer place for Dorothee, the users of the temple and for coming visitors. I will miss the coffee/tea breaks with Japanese sweets provided by Dorothee and our conversations.